Panorama High School

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Wrestling 2016-17

Date Time Sport Level Opponent/Title Location Results
Thursday, December 08, 2016 06:00PM Wrestling, Boys and Girls VR San Fernando Panorama
Thursday, January 12, 2017 06:00PM Wrestling, Boys and Girls VR Sylmar Sylmar
Thursday, January 19, 2017 06:00PM Wrestling, Boys and Girls VR Reseda Panorama
Thursday, January 26, 2017 06:00PM Wrestling, Boys and Girls VR Van Nuys Van Nuys
Thursday, December 01, 2016 Open
Thursday, December 15, 2016 Open
Thursday, January 05, 2017 Open

Wrestling News

LA Times Article: Wrestling down stereotypes by STEPHEN CEASAR, LOS ANGELES TIMES (Click Here for the Link to the Article)

Boys — move!" a woman's voice commanded. The wrestling team lollygagged offstage at the lunchtime pep rally at Panorama High School, and the crowd wasn't paying much attention.

Suddenly, the DJ cranked a bass-heavy beat, and a group of girls came strolling out. Coach Abby Herrera told the students there had never been an all-girls high school wrestling squad in Los Angeles, but this season, a group of students from Panorama was changing that.

"And you're looking at 'em," she said.

Fourteen girls, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, faced their classmates with cold stares.

"At 98 pounds," the coach announced. "The Beast: Coellet Rangel." The wrestler, who doubles as a cheerleader, flashed a quick smile and bowed playfully. Then the game face returned.

Herrera continued down the line: "Miss Bucket" at 109 pounds, "Hippo" at 126 pounds, and, at 230 pounds, Micah Nacpil, who forced a shy smile.

For most teenage girls, having their weight on display in front of their classmates is a nightmare scenario. But these young women have proven to be braver than your average teen.

They've broken into a male-dominated sport that doesn't fully welcome them. And they're trying to transcend old notions of femininity — within their school, their families and themselves.

Wrestling mats stretch from wall to wall in the converted classroom. Orange beams of sunlight enter through tiny windows that seal in the smell of sweat.

The girls pair off and grapple. Coellet grabs Kaylee Acuña's neck and yanks downward, torpedoing herself into Kaylee's abdomen, lifting her like a rag doll and slamming her sideways into the mat. They both rise, pause, then switch roles, Kaylee now the aggressor.

Panorama High wrestlers Leslie de los Reyes, right, and Josselyn Pacheco practice before a tournament at the Los Angeles Convention Center. More photos

The room is mostly quiet except for the occasional grunt of pain, the thump of backs hitting the mat and the rapid-fire advice of assistant coach Richard Ramos.

"If she stands up, what do you do?" he shouts. "Blast her! Knock the air out of her."

The physicality of the sport has whittled away at the team's numbers. They began with 30 girls, and ended up with less than half. Some couldn't hack it, Herrera said. But others never got a chance to try. Their mothers wouldn't let them.

Moms have marched into the wrestling room and removed their daughters. Girls, they believe, shouldn't play sports — let alone one like wrestling. It is barbaric, not ladylike, Herrera said they tell her.

It's a reflection of the school's community: Latino and Asian families, some of whom have steadfast traditional views of gender roles, Herrera said.

"It's moms not realizing that their daughters have the ability, the strength, the endurance to do this," she said. "They're keeping them in that bubble that we're trying to break out.... She can have children, clean the house — but she can't wrestle?"

Seconds after being thrown to the ground and tweaking her back, Coellet walked gingerly toward a teammate after practice.

"Do you have a brush?" she asked. The girl tossed one to her and Coellet trotted off to the bathroom to fix her hair.

They reveled in each other's bruises, while gossiping about prom. They passed out pink Hello Kitty Band-Aids to cover scrapes on their knees. They wove their matted hair into French braids.

Diana Oliva, one of the team's captains, listened to the boy band One Direction in one corner. Micah finished up some homework and then practiced her violin in another.

A few minutes later, the girls prepared to weigh in. They had a match that night.

Though gaining in numbers, only about 3% of high school wrestlers are girls — about 8,000 nationwide in 2012.

At Panorama, a few girls participated on the boys' team, but Herrera thought they'd do better on their own.

Betting she could convince enough girls, Herrera floated the idea of an all-girl team to administrators last year. To her surprise, they gave the go-ahead.

That sort of support isn't the norm, said Ramos, who helped coach his daughter on a boys' team in high school. She now wrestles on the women's team at Missouri Baptist University.

"There are still men out there that think women don't belong on the mat," he said.

Still, coaching girls is different, Ramos said.

"It sounds like boys are tougher, but to be honest, the girls are a lot tougher than the boys," he said. "In a girl's match, even if they're nervous, they're gonna get after it. With the boys, if they're nervous, you won't see a shot — they'll sit there and dance."

Coellet always enjoyed watching the sport, but never thought of giving it a try herself. She didn't think she had the aggression needed to attack opponents, overpower them and cause pain to the point of submission.

"I never thought I had it in me," she said. "But I do."

On a recent afternoon, Coellet sat at the front of her American Literature class, wearing jeans and her black wrestling singlet as a tank top.

Wrestling team co-captain Diana Oliva listens to the boy band One Direction before a match Jan. 31. More photos

Her teacher lectured on the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson — a champion of individualism. Emerson, the teacher said, argued that people shouldn't cave to societal pressures but instead search for, and follow, their own truth.

"So, according to Emerson," the teacher asked the class, "whose rules should you really follow?"

"Your own," Coellet chirped. She flipped her hair, revealing two words emblazoned across the back of her singlet: Chick Wrestler.

Micah's mother thought she was at a tutoring session. She was on the mat.

Within seconds, the heavyweight had pinned her opponent and the referee raised her hand to signify the win. She scurried to the locker room, emerging minutes later wearing her school clothes and lugging a backpack and violin. She hung around for a few moments, said goodbye to her coaches and sprinted outside.

She knew her mother was waiting in the parking lot — ostensibly to pick her up from the tutoring. Wrestling isn't allowed.

She had tried out for the basketball team, but didn't make the cut. She gave water polo a shot, but that didn't work out. Neither did volleyball.

Then, she walked into the wrestling room and asked Herrera if she could try out.

"Sweetie. If you commit, you will be part of this team," Herrera told her.

Micah initially had her mother's blessing to join the team — sort of. "She said yes because she didn't think I would last very long," she said.

But Micah kept with it, and when her mother saw no end in sight, she told her to quit. Wrestling isn't for girls. You're not athletic enough. Besides, the family needs you at home, her mother told her.

I wish they could have seen me wrestle. I just wish they could have shared my joy and been proud of me." — Micah Nacpil

Micah crafted stories of after-school tutoring and field trips. She would sneak her gear to school, days before matches, to avoid any suspicion.

At first, she lost almost every match. Slowly, she started to pick up speed and endurance. And she began to dominate.

Micah weighed about 250 pounds before joining the team. A couple months later, she's down to 225. "I'm the heavyweight. I'm not thin like most of the other girls," she said. "But I'm as fit as they are."

As her skills and confidence grew, so did her guilt. She loved wrestling, but hated lying to her mom.

A match against a rival team would be the touchstone. If she won, she told herself, she would continue wrestling. If she lost, she would give it up. Maybe the sport wasn't for her. She'd obey her mother's wishes and quit.

She won, handily.

The first-ever Los Angeles City Section Girls Wrestling Championship began as a parade of Panorama champions.

First was Micah, who grappled on the floor with her opponent for a while before nimbly hopping over her and pinning her. A few minutes later, Coellet leaped into Herrera's arms after besting her opponent.

As Coellet celebrated, Micah stepped wobbly atop the medal stand, her legs nearly giving out from nerves and exhaustion. She beamed bashfully.

Her eyes scanned the crowd. She looked for family she knew wasn't there.

Panorama High wrestlers Marjorie Tabion, Coellet Rangel, Stephanie Gallegos and Melissa Martinez, from left, hang out in the practice room before a home match Jan. 31. More photos

"I wish they could have seen me wrestle," she said. "I just wish they could have shared my joy and been proud of me."

Instead, she gazed toward her teammates in the crowd — who chanted her name.

Minutes later, Kaylee Acuña, the 103-pounder, easily won her match as well.

Then things turned south. San Fernando High, which created its own girls' team after Panorama, began racking up wins. As the afternoon wore on, neither team knew who led in points.

After the last match of the day, officials huddled, tabulating scores. The wrestlers locked arms and, in a rare few moments of silence for 14 teenage girls, awaited their fate.

A voice boomed over a loudspeaker, "In second place, San Fernando..." The words took half a second to land, then the Panorama Pythons erupted in shrieks. The San Fernando team fell silent and tearful.

As the crowd began filing out, the champions began rolling up the mat where they had just earned their crown.

A few days later, Micah told her mother the truth. The city champion was promptly grounded.

Panorama Athletics now on Twitter

Panorama athletics is now on twitter. Please follow us on twitter: @panoramahs. Get updates and scores of all the athletic events at Panorama High School. Tell your friends and family to follow us as well.

GIRLS WRESTLING: Panorama captures first City crown with five athletes crowned individual champions, Panorama edges San Fernando to win inaugural final. By Alex Valladares, Special to the Daily News

During a historic event for not only the City Section, but girls wrestling, it was only fitting that a new rivalry was born Saturday.

The City held the sport's inaugural final at Panorama High and the host Pythons made sure to set the standard.

Panorama had five individual champions and benefited from late victory by Bell's Melina Aguilar to edge San Fernando 146-145 to capture the team title.

The Tigers trailed 146-139 with two matches remaining when the Tigers' Yakira Andrade was pinned by Aguilar in the 138-pound final to mathematically eliminate San Fernando from title contention.

"Emotionally, it's such a high," Panorama coach Abby Herrera. "I know that if you truly and honestly want something and you work to get something, you will achieve it.

"We did exactly that as a team. Myself, coach Ramos and these 14 girls saw that we worked for three months. We saw we put in the work to get the results and we did."

The Pythons, who defeated the Tigers 58-18 in a dual match Jan. 10, held a 135-133 advantage, but got victories from Jasmine Heraldez (122) and Melissa Martinez (126) to take a 146-133 lead.

"I didn't think about the points," said Heraldez, who scored 10 points in the third round for a 12-4 majority decision over Cleveland's Martha Aguirre.

"I got nervous at first, but when the match started, I just concentrated on my opponent."

Martinez followed with a victory by pin over Birmingham's Luisa Mexicano in 3 minutes, 44 seconds. "It's emotional right now," Martinez said. "We set the bar for the school which gives us so much support. I didn't think I would be part of it. It's an amazing feeling."

The Pythons' Kaylee Acuna pinned Birmingham's Leah Cruz to win the 103-pound division and Micah Nacpil scored a 10-0 majority decision over San Fernando's Margarita Barba in the 235-pound class to open the finals.

"It feels really good to be the first City champion and make my team proud," Nacpil said. "I feel like it's a big accomplishment and feel honored to be part of it."

Coellet Rangel won the 98-pound title for the Pythons against Diana Sanchez of San Fernando.

San Fernando also had five champions, led by Jasmine Gonzalez at 132 pounds.

Gonzalez was named outstanding lower division wrestler and Perla Lopez, who won the 154-pound class, was named outstanding upper division wrestler.

Jocelyn Vargas (108), Jasmine Aquino (114) and Cynthia Medina (118) also won titles for the Tigers.

Birmingham's Lakiyah Wagoner was uncontested in capturing the 189-pound title.

Panorama High School debuts LAUSD's first all-girls wrestling team (Article from Daily News, December 14, 2012 by Jill Painter) [Click Here for the Link]

Panorama High's Debbie Jimenez hadn't played school sports before, but when she saw a flier for girls wrestling tryouts in the hallway last year, she was intrigued by it.

It's not that she knew anything about the sport.

"At first, it was just for the heck of it and to waste time," Jimenez said. "Then I started liking it."

Jimenez, a senior, is one of the best wrestlers, and she's convinced a couple of her friends to come out for the team this year.

Now, Jimenez is helping make history in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

She is one of the initial members of the first all-girls wrestling team in the history of the LAUSD.

"It makes me proud to be one of the first girls," Jimenez said. "There's not a lot of people that get to be the first in anything. It's a privilege."

Panorama coach Abby Herrera, 30, is a former soccer and volleyball player and wrestler, too. She played sports at Birmingham High and Pierce College before working with at-risk kids. That's her passion.

Her wrestling team is made up of 21 athletes, most of them Latinas, and all of whom live in Panorama City. Most kids also come from low-income families, Herrera said.

"I'm blessed," she said. "These girls work hard. For me, this is my dream job. This is such a release for them. It's the best place to feel they can let out their aggression. A lot of them don't want to be at home.

"Some of their home situations aren't that great, so at times this feels more like family for them."

Herrera works at the school as campus security and just about any other thing the school needs, including secretarial work. But her most rewarding work comes when school is over for the day, when 21 girls gather with her in their own room dedicated to wrestling. They opened the windows that day for the benefit of a reporter and photographer, but normally they really sweat in there.

One girl is nicknamed Hippo, and she doesn't mind. Another was affectionately called "Cauli" because she was worried she was getting "cauliflower ear." None of the girls are allowed to wear makeup in practices or in matches, because it will get all over the mats and those they wrestle, so it comes off before they enter the room.

The program is new, and there are no bells and whistles, but these athletes don't need them. As long as the girls have wrestling shoes and passion, that's all that's needed here.

And they have plenty of that.

As the girls lined up along the walls of the room, assistant coach Richard Ramos - a former wrestler whose daughter Desiree Ramos wrestles at Lindenwood University in Missouri - played a dodgeball-like game, and all the girls were smiling and laughing. The joy is as palpable as the sweat.

Another game of snake was played, and when one girl is taken down in a wrestling move, they join the circle until everyone has been taken down. One girl was grabbing for Kaylee Acuna, who wrestles at 103 pounds.

Herrera wonders aloud why anyone is trying to take down Acuna, who is the fastest on the team.

Acuna defines the term overachiever. She's a 4.0 student. She plays four sports and takes AP classes in calculus, biology, literature and government. With her curly hair, petite frame and sweet smile, you would never think of her as a wrestler. But when she gets on the mat, she's strong and fierce.

"I had no experience wrestling," said Acuna, who had to convince her mother to let her wrestle. "It's strange. When you're on the mat, it's a different story. I feel the whole gym disappears. It's just me and my opponent. It's like we're in an empty room.

"When the ref raises your hand, it's the best feeling ever."

As for Acuna's mom, she's a big fan now.

"She wants to get on the mat now," Acuna giggled.

Jimenez's father, Andres, wasn't sold, either. Then he went to one of his daughter's matches and saw her perform her go-to move, the sweep single.

"At first, he wasn't supportive and said it was a guy's sport," Jimenez said. "But then he saw how much I liked it, and he started supporting me. Three weeks ago, I got fifth place in a tournament and my parents were really excited. They show everyone my medal and have it hung up in the house."

Jimenez said she loves that the sport keeps her in shape and has taught her how to defend herself. She hopes to wrestle in college, but there aren't a lot of colleges that have female wrestling.

Neither Herrera nor Ramos receive a coaching stipend. They are volunteers, and while they love what they do, they're hoping that will change.

They are changing perceptions of sports in which girls can participate. Most female wrestlers in the state compete in Northern California, although Royal's Jade Anderson, Agoura's Rebecca Polich, Louisville's Megan Agajanian and SanFernando's Sarah Saenz have all won Southern California regional titles and last year, Royal's Amy Spafford became the first local female wrestler to win a state crown in the 146-pound division.

Panorama must travel to schools as far away as San Diego to find other girls teams to wrestle in tournaments. Last year, they wrestled and practiced with the boys team at Panorama.

"This sport is for anyone who can handle it," junior Gilmar Gramajo said. "Guys come in and think they can handle it, but sometimes they don't. There are girls that handle it much better.

"I think it's easier for them, now that they're wrestling other girls, because they already wrestled with us and that made them tougher."

Recently, the Panorama girls team was honored by Councilman Tony Cardenas at a meeting. There's a big plaque in the school's front office.

"It's pretty awesome to recognize the first all-girls team. It's both really cool but it's sad that after so many decades of this district and hundreds of schools, this is the first time. I predict eventually they'll be recognized and we'll see Title IX applied here. They're not going to be the last all-girls team."

Legislative deputy Paloma V. Perez, an employee who works for Cardenas, was a high school wrestler in Sacramento, making the honor more special within Cardenas' office.

When the Pythons were honored, the city council gave the team $2,000. Herrera said she'll use that for a floor mat - they have a mat that covers only half of the small classroom - and padding for the walls.

There won't even be enough for uniforms. The girls use the boys' uniforms for matches, so they wear T-shirts under them.

But the Pythons girls wrestling team has all it needs.

"We're lucky," Herrera said. "We have the support here at the school and in the district. We have the right girls, and we're in the right place at the right time."

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